Gloster not convinced by Yo-Yo 16.1 benchmark

Former India physio, John Gloster, questions BCCI team management’s decision to maintain 16.1 cut-off for Yo-Yo Test.

Ambati Rayudu, despite shining with the bat for Chennai Super Kings in this year's IPL, was left out of India's limited-overs squad after failing to clear the Yo-Yo Test.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

For an Indian cricketer, 16.1 is a dreaded figure these days. That's the mark a player needs to achieve to clear the Yo-Yo test — the new benchmark for fitness in the national team.

While the team management has made it clear that every cricketer has to score 16.1 or above to be eligible for selection, there are doubts on whether the test can be the ultimate parameter.

John Gloster, who served as Team India's physio for a considerable amount of time, is not too convinced about the high cut-off. One of the more sought after physios in the cricketing circuit, Gloster believes that it is important to be flexible.

READ| Yo-Yo test is just one part of a fitness drill, says former India trainer

“Yo-Yo test could be of help in the T20s, but is it a definitive test for all formats of the game? I am not too sure,” Gloster tells Sportstar.

While Indian cricket has taken to Yo-Yo test—a fitness regime introduced by Jens Bangsbo mainly for football— teams like Australia have decided to go back to the tried and tested Two-kilometre time trial. “The time trial is an easier process and it is easy to run there. You don’t need much equipment,” Gloster says.

Recently, Ambati Rayudu—one of the highest run-scorers in the Indian Premier League this year—was dropped from India’s limited-overs side after he failed to clear the Yo-Yo test. Sanju Samson too was left out of the India A side for the same reason.

Interestingly, Gloster has seen Samson from close quarters during his time as Rajasthan Royals' physio. “The reason to have such tests is to know the durability factor. But then, what about the benchmark? Is Sanju Samson unfit? No. He took some fantastic catches during the IPL, which would not have been possible had he been unfit,” Gloster says.

“The game is becoming skill-based and it is important that one has the ability to execute. It is a must to build fatigue resistant athletes, and that’s justified. But the argument is, is 16.1 the ideal cut-off point? That’s the grey area,” Gloster says.

There are doubts on whether this test could be an ideal tool to know the ultimate fitness and injury levels of a player.

Having worked with the star-studded Indian team, which had the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in its ranks, Gloster admits that it would have been ‘unrealistic’ to see those players scoring 16.1. “For some cricketers, 16.1 would have been physically unattainable. That doesn’t mean they would be exempted from the selection.

"The benchmark is whether they genuinely attempt to improve based on a threshold. Whatever the individual threshold is, every time you test them, they improve that,” he says.

Gloster points out that the technical expertise is 'underpinned by fitness'. “Why did Rajasthan Royals introduce GPS tracking of all the athletes this year?  We wanted to mark and judge the fitness parameters. International cricket has to be underpinned by fitness but what is a definitive marker of fitness remains the grey spot,” he says.

Former India cricketer and erstwhile chief national selector, Sandeep Patil, has recently told media that a player needs to be given more than one chance. And Gloster agrees with Patil. “There needs to be flexibility. There could be off-days for any player, so it is important that they are given another chance,” Gloster points out.

While he agrees that players today need to be more accountable to fitness, the cut-off level could be rethought.

“We need a debate on this topic. One of the best outcomes of this whole issue is that there is now a constructive open debate about fitness in cricket. This is healthy and required. Let’s bring science to the fore,” he says.

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